As we continue with our Alumni Spotlight features we sit down with Dickinson Men's Soccer alumnus Matt Wood, class of 2009. Matt, who is now Deputy General Counsel at Sonatype, recalls that it is the pride from the people that he got and still gets to associate with, whether it be soccer alums, fellow student-athlete alums, or non-student-athlete alums, that helped make his experience as a Dickinson Red Devil memorable.
Matt grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland, just north of Washington D.C. and recalled there was a never moment when he didn't have a soccer ball at his feet. "My first organized soccer experience was on the CYO circuit," Matt said. "I can't remember a time when I wasn't dribbling a soccer ball. Even to this day I have two balls in my kitchen and it probably drives my wife nuts."
When he started his college search Matt admits he may have had his head in the clouds. "I still had this pipe dream of making this my career and playing for an ACC school," Matt stated. "I credit it to the fact my videos must have gotten lost in the mail," Matt continued with a chuckle. But after a reevaluation and looking at places similar to his high school, he stumbled upon Dickinson through a friend's older brother. Matt's friend, Paul Coyle's older brother was currently at Dickinson and was on the men's basketball team and talked to Matt about the positive student-athlete experience he was having. "None of the schools felt right or had the right balance of academics and athletics," Matt stated. "I feel like so many other Dickinsonians, that when I came to campus with my dad on a rainy Sunday I remember the green lawns and limestone buildings, and it was really hard not to be swept away."
Matt arrived at Dickinson during an interesting time in the soccer program as it was beginning a transition era under then relatively new head coach, Brian Redding. "He had an incredible desire to win," Matt said. "I believe it is why Dickinson men's soccer is as successful as it is today. He instilled that in the players and he coupled that with his ability to recruit and bring in talented players."
The leadership Matt experienced during his time in the red rubbed off onto him and was something he and his classmates wanted to be sure to leave behind when they eventually moved on. "They made sure you were a part of this DCMS family on and off the field," Matt said. "That meant giving you a home as a lost puppy as a freshman wondering the street. They made sure you found the right dog house that fit you. Whenever the team did something they made sure everyone was a part of it."
Whether it was on the field or in the class room, Matt realized it was the mentors he had that helped form him into the person he is. "The program had a way of bringing guys so close together over four years, on and off the field," Matt recalled. "When you are an 18-year old kid you are still at a very formative time in your life. And in college that's where you transition from an immature child to putting on your work pants and figuring out what you are going to do with the rest of your life."
Off the field it took Matt some time to figure out where his true passion lied but had the ability to try multiple areas of study because of the liberal arts education. "My mom is a CPA. MBA, and partner at a property management firm so I was encouraged to look at the business program," Matt stated. "I found my home at the International Business program and minored in economics, which was a fantastic program with a fantastic group of professors."
Since graduating, Matt has achieved success whether it was at the graduate level, graduating from the University of Maryland JD MBA program or in his professional career. He credits that success to the people who helped shape him during his formative years here in Carlisle, and the pride that those people have in him today and more importantly he has in them. "The pride for me stems from the people I get to associate with," Matt said. "Seeing my closest friends, my wife, and even people I wasn't great friends with...watching them go out and succeed and carve their own path in the world fills you with pride in knowing in some small part you helped build that character. And most importantly they were formed at the same place you were."
Matt was a First-team All-Centennial Conference selection in both 2007 and 2008, and received Second-team honors in 2006. He was also named All-Region in 2008, leading the Red Devils to the conference semifinals. The Red Devils dropped a heartbreaker to top-seed Swarthmore, playing through double-overtime before the Garnet advanced on penalty kicks. They earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and picked up a win over Salisbury University before enduring another setback to Swarthmore in the second round. It was the second straight year they went to penalty kicks in the conference playoffs as Gettysburg survived in another thrilling match up in 2007. The Red Devils earned an NCAA at-large bid that season as well, but fell to #9-ranked York College.
To view Matt's exclusive interview click on the link below.